Fatal Landslide Kills Over 600 in Papua New Guinea

After rescue personnel and distraught family members lost hope that anybody would be discovered alive, the International Organization for Migration has increased the death toll from a devastating landslide in Papua New Guinea to more than 670. 

The new death toll was derived from estimates made by authorities in Yambali village and Enga province, who determined that the landslide on Friday had buried over 150 dwellings, according to the U.N. migration agency’s mission in the South Pacific island country.

On Friday, local authorities first estimated that 100 lives had been lost. On Sunday, the first mechanical earth-moving equipment to join the rescue attempt was an excavator provided by a local builder. Up until then, just five corpses and a limb of a sixth victim had been found.

As the rescue operation faced the dangers of tons of unstable dirt and tribal violence on Sunday, relief personnel were relocating people to safer ground. Roughly 1,250 individuals have been forced to leave their homes after 250 more have been condemned due to the fact that the earth is still moving after the landslide. The national administration is considering a formal request for further foreign assistance.

The provincial government is constructing evacuation shelters on higher, safer ground on each side of the enormous rubble that has sliced across the province’s major roadway and covered an area of three or four football fields’ worth of land. Tribal warfare in Tambitanis village, around halfway down the road, has posed a threat to the convoys that have been transporting food, water, and other vital supplies to the destroyed town since Saturday. The community is located 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the province seat, Wabag. Following the immediate provision of food, water, and shelter, the country director of the humanitarian organization CARE International, Justine McMahon, said that the relocation of survivors to “more stable ground” should be the priority.